Infrastructure Design: Shaping and Impacting the World Around Us

Trang Vu By: Trang Vu

Happy National Infrastructure Week! To show our appreciation for those engineers who are literally designing the face of our earth, we wanted to showcase two engineers from our North Carolina Water/Wastewater team in Raleigh. Ashley Kabat and Mallory Alman are a couple of water/wastewater wizards! They both graduated from NC State and have a passion for designing systems that not only work efficiently but also enrich the lives of the people that use them.

I met up with Ashley and Mallory (Ashley Kabat, pictured below in orange and Mallory Alman, pictured below in maroon and black) at a local coffee shop in Raleigh near the NC State campus, naturally! While enjoying our lattes, muffins, and scones, we chatted about numerous topics including their personal heroes, what they love most about their work, and their favorite summertime activity.

Trang: Hey guys, thanks for taking time to meet me today! So obviously we see each other every day at the office. We chat here and there so we know each other pretty well, but what’s one thing that your coworkers don’t know about you?
Ashley: I took a trip to Nicaragua to dig wells.
Trang: Wow, that’s amazing! I think we’ll have to dig deeper into that in another blog!
Mallory: I’m very interested in ecology and farming and I’d love to live on a small hobby farm someday.
Trang: Hobby farm? That sounds a lot like hard labor than a hobby to me, but could I get some of that fresh produce? *smirks* So, moving on! Everyone has a hero—and for this questionyou can’t say your boss Chris Petree—but who personally inspires you and why?
Ashley: Brandon Turner, an investor and entrepreneur. He embodies incredible discipline, never stops reading and learning, and is constantly reaching for new goals both in his career and personal life.
Trang: After working with you more often these days, I definitely see a lot of those traits in you! Mallory?
Mallory: *thinks pensively* Hmmm…my sister’s dog. He lays around all day rent free, never cooks his own dinner, and just wants to vibe out in the yard.

Trang: Not who I thought you were going to say there but you know what? ME TOO! So, we live in the great City of Raleigh. What about the City’s infrastructure do you like the most? Mine has to be the greenways!
Ashley: What I like about Raleigh’s infrastructure is that it isn’t the centerpiece. Most of the infrastructure is well-integrated into the city landscape.
Trang: So true, it’s all connected and so sustainable!
Mallory: Speaking of greenways and sustainability, our Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant (Trang thinking: Chris would be so proud) is enormous and really progressive. Did you know they treat their biosolids and apply them to the sunflower fields along the Neuse River Greenway and then they later harvest the sunflowers and use them to produce biodiesel! They’re also planning to generate natural gas through anaerobic digestion in the future.
Trang: Thanks for dropping that tidbit of knowledge. I don’t know if I would’ve ever learned that on my own! So that brings me to my next couple questions. What do you like most about working on water/wastewater systems?
Ashley: I like that the water/wastewater discipline brings together engineering, chemistry, and biology.

Mallory: I totally agree Ashley! The thing I appreciate most is the immediate relevance to both human health and the environment. Even the smallest design error can cause serious hazards, but a proactive design can protect against health concerns or minimize the impact of development on ecosystems. I enjoy searching for opportunities to go above and beyond the minimum requirements for people and the environment.
Trang: You ladies are a couple of environmental and human conscious engineers that design for the greater good and I love it! So, my last question, what is your favorite part of a project?
Ashley: I enjoy analyzing and high-level planning. Looking at a project from every possible angle–budget, timeline, scalability, constructability, operations, and engineering and finding where these overlap.
Mallory: I especially enjoy deriving new equations or calculation procedures when a project requires it. I had the opportunity to do the first PVC force main lifecycle analysis our group has completed, and the challenge was very exciting.

Trang: Ah there it is, the engineer in you both! *laughs around the table* But seriously, I don’t know if people realize how much of what you and your amazing group does that truly impacts them every day. And speaking of infrastructure in general, our engineers work really hard to design the systems that shape the world around us so a HUGE thanks to those in our Infrastructure Division for designing efficient water/wastewater systems, innovative drainage and stormwater management, safe roadways, sturdy bridges, thorough traffic analyses, and dynamic signal designs. How would we survive without you both?

Quick Fire Round

Current Hobby
A: Refinishing furniture
M: Longboarding

Favorite Meal
A: Grilled Cheese
M: Homecooked spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, and a glass of wine

Preferred Music Genre
A: Country/Rock/Folk (Think Johnny Cash)
M: Indie rock, or Taylor Swift—she is her own genre.

Most Watchable Movie
A: Bridesmaids
M: Olive the Other Reindeer (A children’s Christmas movie…)

Favorite Season
Both: Summer

Favorite Summertime Activity
A: Swimming at the beach and kayaking
M: Kayaking on a mountain river with a nice cold beer

Interested in working with Water/Wastewater professionals like Mallory and Ashley? Check out our current openings at